Coronavirus: How hostels and hotels can be turned into makeshift hospitals

Nidhi Adlakha explains how our hostels, hotels and convention centers can be put into action to tackle the Covid-19 crisis

In early February this year, as doctors in Wuhan grappled with the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese engineers jumped into action to build a 1,000-bed hospital in ten days. The two-story, 366,000 square foot Huoshenshan Hospital was built in record time, and soon Leishenshan Hospital was built in a parking lot in the same way. The Wuhan Salon Temporary Hospital, modeled after the prefabricated hospital built in Beijing during the 2003 SARS epidemic, was a former convention hall. Soon, exhibition halls and gymnasiums were converted to create 16 makeshift hospitals in Wuhan (now closed).

With hospitals operating at full capacity, these much talked about engineering feats are making the news. Drawing inspiration from China, cities around the world are now considering building makeshift hospitals to cope with the growing number of cases. New York is planning to reuse convention centers and college campuses, and authorities in Moscow are rushing to complete the “Chinese-inspired” hospital on the outskirts of the city within a month. Even Kolkata has converted a stadium in Dumurjola into a quarantine area with 150 beds. So why not Chennai, known for its thriving medical tourism industry.

Unexploited tracks

On March 24, the state government announced that the Omandurar government multi-specialty hospital on Mount Road would be converted to a special facility for COVID-19 patients. The bed capacity is increased and a working group made up of health professionals is being organized. But now we must also look at unexploited avenues such as hostels, five-star hotels, etc. “If initiated, it will be great; there are no two ways about it, ”said an official from the Corporation of Chennai (CoC).

SN Subrahmanyan, CEO and Managing Director of Larsen and Toubro, announced this week that the construction company could build a hospital from scratch in record time, and also convert existing structures such as warehouses, wedding halls. , etc., in hospitals if necessary. “We have sent proposals to various state governments and assessed them from our capabilities,” Subrahmanyan said, adding, “The hall will first be closed using specific techniques and materials. We will then install air conditioners, then electrical and plumbing work will be done, and partitions will be built to create segregated areas.

An earlier snapshot of the Huoshenshan Temporary Field Hospital under construction

A Previous Snapshot of Huoshenshan Temporary Field Hospital Under Construction | Photo credit: special arrangement

Hurry up

As the crisis deepens in India, several citizen groups are discussing the idea of ​​using existing infrastructure rather than building new hospitals. ” from India [currently] vacant hostels that amount to more than 2 lakh rooms can certainly be converted into salvage rooms, as can 3 and 5 star hotels. The hostels are located in universities spread over acres and are equipped with beds and bathrooms, ”a source said. “It will take 10 to 15 days to get them up and running – much less time than building a hospital from scratch,” he adds.

The CoC manager adds that since we have existing structures, we can save time on building a foundation, organizing the workforce, etc. “They can be temporary structures like we’ve seen in China. If well planned, using the expertise of architects and planners, many public places can be used as hospitals and quarantine centers, ”he says. “Wedding halls, convention venues and other buildings can be turned into hospitals. “

Given the urgency of the situation, available and ready facilities for emergencies and medical purposes are the need of the moment, says Rajesh Gurumurthy, Senior Director, Head of Strategic Advisory, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, at Jones Lang The room. “Hotel rooms could be ideal makeshift isolated wards. In addition, some government and public buildings such as auditoriums, exhibition and trade centers, and government-owned guest houses may be used. These structures can be easily isolated from other public infrastructure, ”he said, adding that private hospitals could also operate under government direction during this crisis.

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